Vending Machines

28 Jan
Why are Japans vending machines such a hit with foreigners ? It could just be the variety and efficiency of the things. The Japanese word is Jidohanbaiki and it’s a useful one to lock into your brain. The country thrives on vending machines – and you will find them literally everywhere. I love em and they have captured my imagination since day one. Why my obsession with them is cos there is something about them which intrigues and fascinates me. Maybe this is a spin off from my pinball crazed days as a kid. In other countries, vending machines are bolted down and caged up to prevent theft and vandalism, but in all this time I am yet to see one machine here vandalised….and there are a reported 5 million of them ! How good is that ?! Another nod for Japan. There are a variety of makers and content with vending machines though primarily you will find hot and cold drinks. The canned, sweet tasting coffee is some of the tastiest I have tried. In winter, I used to prefer Max Coffee, the large canned American Coffee, or Royal Milk Tea, but have recent switched to the cocoa. Smaller canned coffees such as Wonder Coffee are good too, but can be quite strong – maybe you’ll need that if you’ve got a long day of English lessons in front of you. Some machines such as the ones from the Dydo company offer a point card.

You obtain a point card when you make your purchase, then insert the card each time you make a subsequent purchase, thus accruing points. When you’ve accrued enough points you can redeem them for a range of gifts. The point card system is very popular in Japan and is in use when buying many other products…ie donuts, books and CD’s etc. Some machines have a game upon completion where if you get three matching lights (or similar) at time of purchase you can be another selection for free ! I’ve been told that Thailand has something of a vending machine culture as well, though not on the scale of Japan. It’s amusing when you return to your homeland and see that lack of variety with the vending machines. When I’ve told people over the years about this phenomenon they often are repulsed at the thought of canned coffee. Fools. Hot and cold drinks, beer, sake, hot chips, noodles, disposable cameras, eggs, cigarettes, magazines and other products can be purchased via vending machines. Prices for hot and cold drinks average out from 100-120 yen.

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